Noise ordinance discussed

Published 10:10 am Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A Lunenburg resident voiced concern about the county’s noise ordinance during daytime hours during the Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors meeting Sept. 13.

Richard Watson, who lives in Lunenburg, said he went outdoors during lunchtime one weekend and heard loud music. When he investigated, he found it was coming from a site approximately 2 miles from his home that was holding a community party.

He said the music persisted several hours later into the evening.

Watson said he had a neighbor call with similar complaints about the music.

“I asked a deputy if he would please go by and ask them to turn it down a little bit,” Watson said. He said the deputy returned and told them that the sheriff’s office did not have a noise ordinance that the deputy could enforce before 10 p.m. The deputy said he can ask people to turn down noise, but the people are not obligated to do so.

Watson said Sheriff Arthur Townsend reiterated what the deputy had, that the county does not have an ordinance to enforce loud noise during daytime hours.

“There’s nothing the sheriff’s department can do because of that time frame that’s in there,” Watson said about the ordinance. “It’s kind of tied their hands.”

The current section of the noise ordinance that addresses this is Section 58-78, which says it is unlawful for “sound produced or reproduced by any radio, phonograph, television, record, compact disc, tape player, musical instrument, loudspeaker sound amplifier, or any other machine or device or human voice in such a manner or with such volume or duration between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. that it is plainly audible (a) beyond the property lines of any residential or commercial property, (b) inside the confines of a dwelling unit, house, or apartment of another person or inside a business or place of worship, or (c) at a distance of 150 or more feet from the sound source.”

“We have a lot of people in this community who get up at 4:30, 5 o’clock in the morning to go to work,” Watson said. “They don’t stay up till 10 o’clock at night. They go to bed early.”

He also spoke about nighttime employees.

“It’d be tough to work all night and come home at 6 in the morning, and get into bed, and at 7 o’clock, your neighbor plays blaring music just because they can,” Watson said. “And there’s nothing that anybody can do about it.”

“Two miles is a little excessive for me,” Watson said about the noise.

Watson asked the board to consider removing the time limit to have the ordinance enforced at all times.

County Administrator Tracy Gee said one way the county has tried to curb loud noises from events was having event permits, which meant that any event that contained more than 100 people needed to file a permit with the county.

“That’s something that the community does need to know,” Gee said. “If you have an event, even during the daytime, if it has more than 100 people, you need to have an event permit.”

Family reunions and church events are exempt from the event permit rule.

Brown’s Store District Supervisor Mike Hankins said Kenbridge has a noise ordinance that stretches into the daytime that prohibits playing music outdoors from exceeding approximately 80 decibels.

“You might want to look at making a change at some point,” Hankins said. “You might want to look at the decibel level.”